Imagine a world without plants. We rely on them for everything, yet they are often overlooked. Now, thousands of plant scientists, botanists, farmers and gardeners from all over the world are coming together to share their Fascination of Plants, and Leeds is playing its part too.
On Friday May 18th the importance of plants on our planet will be under the spotlight worldwide. The first International Fascination of Plants Day, launched under the umbrella of the European Plant Science Organization (EPSO, Brussels), is bringing together more than 450 institutions in 39 countries to celebrate the role of plant science in the social, environmental and economic landscape now and into the future. The University of Leeds will be holding a special event in The Light Shopping Centre on The Headrow in Leeds city centre, featuring displays of plants known and not so well known, such as cassava, wheat, tomatoes, miscanthus and vinca. The aim is to demonstrate how these crops contribute to our daily lives, not through food, but in energy, textile and drug production. The event will also feature a show hive of bees to highlight the crucial and often overlooked role that pollinators play in our world, and all visitors to the stand will be able to pick up packs of wild flower seeds so they too can take part in celebrating plants at home.
Local schools will be in attendance, giving children the chance to find out more about these fascinating plants, and to start making the connection between the growing plant and where our food comes from.
Professor Christine Foyer, Director of the University's Food security, Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture hub, believes it's vital we highlight the role of plants in our everyday lives:
"There is a global challenge to deliver nutritious, safe and affordable food to a population of over 9 billion using less land, fewer inputs, reduced waste and lower environmental impact. However, without plants there is no significant life on earth - other than microbes. From the air that we breathe to the water and food that sustain us, we owe it all to plants. Events like this can really help bring the role of plants to life for children and adults alike."
The Food Security, Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture hub at the University of Leeds is a new initiative that harnesses a wide variety of research expertise to address the global challenges of food security. The Hub brings together experts in plant bioscience, environmental services, ecosystems services and pest control. The hub also examines waste reduction, packaging and storage, livestock agriculture, nutrition and food stability.
Fascination of Plants events are happening all over the country. From the space age Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre to the ancient Stonehenge landscape, events will explore how we share our planet with plants. Universities, plant research institutes and botanic gardens will open their doors to let the public explore basic plant science, agricultural research, environmental conservation, biodiversity, education and arts.
The public, journalists and the media are invited to explore laboratories, visit greenhouses, field sites, museums, and other exhibitions. Cambridge University Botanic Garden will explore the power of plants to provide food, drugs, energy and more. Cardiff University are providing tours around their plant science labs and hosting talks, debates and exhibitions, and there will be a chance to visit Thanet Earth, the largest glasshouse complex in the UK.
Dave Westhead and colleagues in Experimental Haematology, Cancer Research UK (Jan 2015), £700,521
Sheena Radford, Mark Harris, Peter Stockley, Alan Berry, Alex O'Neill, Thomas Edwards, Adrian Goldman, Anastasia Zhuravleva, Wellcome Trust (Jan 2015), £443,015
Bill Kunin, EU (Jan 2015), £157,490
John Colyer, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Charitable Fund (Jan 2015), £40,000
Chris Hassall, Royal Society (Dec 2014), £14,500
Ryan Seipke, Royal Society (Nov 2014), £13,700
Alan Berry, Wellcome Trust (Oct 2014), £749,865
Ian Hope, Marie-Anne Shaw, BBSRC (Oct 2014), £396,565
Alison Ashcroft, Peter Stckley, Sheena Radford, Nic Stonehouse, David Brockwell, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Oct 2014), £340,937
Les Firbank, Joe Holden, BBSRC (Oct 2014), £210,302
Darren Tomlinson and colleagues in Chemistry and Pathology, anatomy and Tumour Biology, Dr Hadwen Trusy (Oct 2014), £194,475
Paul Knox, EU (Oct 2014), £167,229
Martin Stacey and colleagues in Medicine & Health, Pfizer (Oct 2014), £90,453
Darren Tomlinson and colleagues in Experimental Oncology, YCR (Oct 2014), £69,480
Andrew Macdonald, Jamel Mankouri, Kidney Research Fund UK (Oct 2014), £58,878
Mike McPherson and colleagues in Dentistry and Engineering, Wellcome Trust (Oct 2014), £58,437
Dave Westhead and colleagues in Experimental Haemotology, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (Sep 2014), £281,424
Emmanuel Paci and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £636,759
Andrew Peel, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £371,598
Lars Jeuken, Stephen Evans, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £333,684
Lars Jeuken, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £313,463
Michelle Peckham, Mark Harris, Rao Sivaprasadarao, Eileen Ingham, Nic Stonehouse, Nikita Gamper, Wellcome Trust (Sep 2014), £192,763
Neil Ranson, BBSRC (Aug 2014), £355,253
Stuart Egginton, BHF (Aug 2014), £271,094
Darren Tomlinson, Mike McPherson, Technology Strategy Board (Aug 2014), £98,665
Peter Henderson, Leverhulme Trust (Aug 2014), £15,222
Mike McPherson (and colleagues in the School of Chemistry), EPSRC (Jul 2014), £819,880
Peter Stockley, Neil Ranson, BBSRC (Jul 2014), £455,787
Sheena Radford, Univesity of Michigan (Jul 2014), £138,452
Ryan Seipke, British Society Antimicrobial Chemistry (Jun 2014), £11,960
John Trinick, BHF (Jun 2014), £222,614
Chris West, Leverhulme Trust (Jun 2014), £181,241
Jon Lippiat, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (May 2014), £125,174
Christine Foyer, Royal Society (May 2014), £24,000